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EU must act on Hungary media market distortion

EU must act on Hungary media market distortion

16 groups, including MFRR partners, urge EC Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to respond to state aid complaints on abuse of state advertising and aid to public broadcaster

A coalition of 16 press freedom, freedom of expression and journalists‘ organisations have urged EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager to act on complaints that the Hungarian government has violated EU state aid rules to undermine media pluralism.

Over the past 10 years, the Hungarian government has dismantled media freedom and pluralism largely by manipulating the media market, weaponizing state resources to punish critical media and reward government mouthpieces.

The European Commission has not responded to specific complaints – filed in 2016 and 2018, respectively – alleging the abuse of state aid in Hungary to distort the media landscape, despite the fact that protecting free market competition and ensuring fair use of state aid are core EU values.


MFRR calls for a robust and transparent investigation into…

MFRR calls for a robust and transparent investigation into threats made against Nello Scavo

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and freedom of expression organisations call on the Maltese and Italian governments to ensure a robust, thorough and transparent investigation into Neville Gafà for threats made against journalist, Nello Scavo

On 27 June 2020, Neville Gafà, a former person of trust in the Office of the Maltese Prime Minister, issued a threat against Italian journalist, Nello Scavo of the national newspaper, Avvenire. In response to a tweet posted by AlarmPhone, an independent support organisation for people crossing the Mediterranean, Gafà called on the organisation to “stop your dirty business”. When Scavo responded questioning the former official’s record, Gafà called for him to “stop your dirty business. If not, we will be stopping you.” 

On 7th August, MFRR partners and free expression organisations sent a letter to Maltese and Italian authorities calling for robust, thorough and transparent investigation into Neville Gafà.

On 19th August, Neville Gafà confirmed he was being investigated: “I am being investigated by Malta’s police after a complaint was filed against me by a foreign journalist. A magisterial inquiry has been requested by the foreign ministry – the Maltese ministry, not a foreign one. No such complaints will stop me from fighting or broadcast what is happening in the Mediterranean. I haven’t even started. There are no compromises on Malta.”

However, we have not received a response from either Maltese or Italian authorities.


MFRR partners are profoundly concerned about media freedom attacks…

MFRR partners are profoundly concerned about media freedom attacks in Hungary, following EU Summit

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners are profoundly concerned about the latest media freedom attacks in Hungary, which take place only days after the EU Summit, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán praised the rule of law situation in his country.

On 22 July 2020, László Bodolai, the head of Magyar Fejlődésért Alapítvány (Foundation for Hungarian Progress, owner of Index Zrt.), fired the editor-In-Chief, Szabolcs Dull. After a letter to the owners signed by the outlet’s journalistic team was refused calling for Dull to be reinstated, the editorial board, made up of Attila Tóth-Szenesi, Veronika Munk, and János Haász, alongside 70 journalists tendered their resignation from Index.  

This is the latest attack on media freedom in Hungary and represents a further reduction of the space within which free and independent media outlets can operate.

Update: On 18 September Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission responded to this letter on behalf of the President Ursula von der Leyen


Serbia: MFRR calls for all journalists and media workers…

Serbia: MFRR calls for all journalists and media workers to be protected

Between 7th and 11th July, 28 journalists and media workers have been attacked by demonstrators and police officers during demonstrations across Serbia

MFRR partners and leading free expression, journalist and media freedom organisations have come together to call for all attacks and threats to journalists to be investigated fully to ensure that perpetrators of violence, including police officers and other state entities, are held to account.

This open letter has been sent to the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Serbia, Dr Nebojša Stefanović

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MFRR call on the UK Government to act in…

Declining media freedom in the UK

MFRR partners sent this letter to UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson raising their concerns regarding the decline in press freedom in the UK and attempts of the UK Government to restrict media scrutiny of its policies and discredit critical reporting.

An independent media is vital to hold governments to account, inform the public and share information that strengthens civic debate and the recent actions to restrict access, discredit critical journalism and isolate journalists and media workers highlights a number of distinct threats to the state of press freedom in the UK

UPDATE: On 27th July, the MFRR received a letter from the Direct Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street in relation to the open letter sent on 29th May. Read the UK Government’s response below